Sixteen years since its debut, the Mazda MX-5 takes its bow in its third version and, among the novelties of the new model, significant is the chance to choose between a soft top and an electrically retractable hard top which turns the little sports car from a true coupé into a true roadster in twelve seconds flat. Yasushi Nakamuta, chief designer, explains the origin of the project: “When the management asked us what had to be done to replace the car with a new generation, we recommended they should be daring, modernising the model and, at the same time, giving full expression to its heredity. The key words were “miata-ness” and contemporariness”.
As with the first generation, the third was also developed with the contribution of Mazda’s three design centres in Irvine (California), Frankfurt and Hiroshima. “The designers in the United States centre”, continues Nakamuta, “were asked to follow the direction of absolute innovation, while Europe worked on evolving the styling of the first model, and the Hiroshima design studio concentrated on creating an ‘oval’ motif that accentuated the compactness. When these three models were analysed in the presence of the original MX-5, it was clear that the European and Japanese proposals incarnated the roadster image we were looking for”. The selection was then narrowed down to two proposals and it was the model developed in Hiroshima with its very compact line and full volumes that won the day.
The reasoning behind the essential, clean styling of the interior was based on the experience gained with the previous models: “The MX-5 is a car that is bought with long-term ownership in mind and this means that its styling must not become stale”, says Nakamuta.
The article continues in Auto & Design no. 161